... from the 7th Floor of the King Edward: The life and death of Joseph Harold Thomas

Despite being born in Montreal in 1880, Joseph Harold Thomas has deep Cornish roots. Both of Joseph's parents are from the Cornwall area at the southwestern tip of England, and have legacies in the seafaring and fishing industries.

John Thomas arrived in Canada in about 1873 and married Sarah Thomas at Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral in Quebec City on 30 June 1874. (Yes, they do have the same surname, however, it appears that they are not directly related.)

Joseph, the eldest son, was born in Montreal in 3 April 1880. He was baptised at St Martin's Anglican Church, Montreal on 19 September 1880. The witnesses were John Thomas, Mary Harding Pearce, and Charlotte Pearce.

Joseph's father was working as a commercial agent which required a lot of traveling between England, New York and Montreal. Joseph soon followed in his father's business and often traveled abroad.

John Thomas appears to have died in Birmingham, England in about 1906 so Sarah Thomas moved back to Canada to live out the rest of her years in Toronto. She died in 28 October 1914 in Toronto and is buried in Prospect Cemetery.

On 17 December 1900, Joseph married Katie Mountford in Manhatten, New York. Katie was born in Birmingham, Warwickshire in 1879. She had at least 3 children - Edith, Audrey and William - who were born in Winnipeg, Victoria and Toronto respectively. Sadly, she died of nephritis on 5 August 1913 in Chippawa, Ontario which is just outside of Niagara Falls. Nephritis (kidney failure) is the same condition that would soon befall her mother-in-law just a half year later.

It should be mentioned that Katie's brother George Mountford had immigrated to Canada and had also been living in Chippawa. He was working as an engineer on the hydro station in Niagara Falls.

In about 1910, Joseph joined his bother Harding Pearce Thomas to form Thomas Bros. & Co. and they both lived in Toronto. They continued in the family business of importing products from Europe to Canada and lived a comfortable life. Eventually, Joseph bought a house in the High Park area of Toronto on Indian Path Road. He also remarried. This time it was to Mary Jane Barrett and they had a daughter Mary Ann in about 1921.

However, it appears owing to the Depression, the family business soon begun to wane, and Joseph's finances soon dried up.

On the night of Joseph's 52 birthday, he checked into a room on the 7th floor of the King Edward Hotel under an assumed name.

Early the next morning, he opened the window, and jumped to his death onto King Street. The street was full of by-standards who were on their way to work. Witnesses report that Joseph literally bounced off the telegraph wires and landed head first into the pavement. He was, of course, dead instantly.

The story was covered in the Toronto papers that same day with the Toronto Daily Star publishing a photo of the scene. He was buried in Prospect Cemetery the next day.

In his will, Joseph what little that he had to his wife Mary Jane. Little is known of the family after that.

Edith married Albert Iokepa, a music teacher originally from Hawaii, in Toronto in 1920. Mary Ann who went by the nickname "Peter" married a Bairstow and died in 1995. She also is buried in Prospect Cemetery.


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